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Artist Interview: Mark Powell - Part Two
Editorial / Artists

Artist Interview: Mark Powell - Part Two

22 Feb 2016

So as a traveller, is it more the place or the people?
I suppose its the place first, and the people just happen. Like I’ve been to Stockholm and Berlin a whole bunch of times because of the people. The cities themselves are great, but the reason to go back is the people.

Most of your drawings are of faces based on photographs, therefore of people you haven’t met. Do you wish you had met them?

Uh, yeah and no. It’s a tough one. What if they turn out to be a bit of a dickhead?

I guess your drawings might change when you get know them..

Yeah well thats something to find out. This year, I’m gonna go back to Australia to do the Aboriginal series. Go and visit different communities. I wanna do people from all over the spectrum - to homeless Aborigines to more successful business men. Do a series of 12 or 15 large drawings.

What would be the document you draw on?
That kind of depends on the person.

Your figures a very realistic. Have you done a lot of life drawing in the past?
I didn’t do it much at Uni. The second year I went to one, and the old fella just kept winking at me. I don’t know what he expected. It was awkward…
…And I used to steal all the drawing boards, cause you know, I was a rebel, and draw straight onto them - lots of arms, and legs, like the human centerpied, and leave them over town.

Did life drawing inspire or influence what you’re doing now?
No, not really. Back then I was doing different things. I was focusing more on painting. So I wasn’t taking drawing very seriously.

When did you turn to drawing?
The time when Ikea stole my studio space and housing - so I didn’t have any space to do painting.

So with the new collection you’ve introduced objects. Do you prefer doing these or the faces?
Well, it keeps me interested I suppose. You’ve got to keep it fresh. Of course I keep it within the same journey.

You will also be having some installation-type objects within the exhibition. How do you hope people will engage with these?
Well, with a typewrite for example, it will be good to get people to write a little something on the pages of my drawings that spill from it. Then they can add to it - so whatever we have a the end of the show is the finished piece itself. So its not just my drawing. To make it interactive.

If you were a type of document, what document would you be?
An airmail envelope. For the travel aspect. Because it could be going anywhere, and often gets lost.

What would be your favourite thing to draw on other than a document?
Something thats incredibly big - I’ve painted on sides of buildings, so I’d love to draw on something as big.

How many biro’s do you get through on average per year? And do you keep them as a memoir?
I have no idea, and yes. But not for stereotypical purposes. I want to get them all framed.

You’ve been spending a lot of time down at Jealous Studio, working on a new show print. Why do you prefer working with someone like Jealous when making a print, as opposed to doing it by yourself?
They know what they are doing. Pretty much. I have no idea, so it would be silly. I have done it before, but it was more messing around with a mate.
I guess because your drawing style is so intricate, its hard to translate into a print.
Why did you decide to start making prints?
Just for people I supposed. Not everyone can shell out money for an original. They should be available to everyone.

Above - Mark Powell at Jealous Studio

You’ve been drawing for nearly 5 years. Do you think you’ll get bored of it?
I just have to make it harder - and by making it harder it will hopefully get better and more dynamic. And I will try to make it more project based.

If you were to get bored, what would be your ideal replacement job?
Marine Biologist. And I’ve drawn one shark, and one octopus. The octopus was drawn on a 1980s mac instruction book….
…But I’m all about save the ocean, and stuff like that, so I want to do something that inclusive of that.
What would be your favourite animal to draw?
I think I’ve drawn everything - tigers, chimps. elephants.

What would be your advice to your younger self?
Get a bite to eat.

So you wouldn’t do anything differently?
I don’t think so - occasionally I was cold and occasionally I was hungry…I mean, I should never of studied Business Studies. Everyone was telling me to study art. And I’m incredibly stubborn, so I was like ‘I’ll show them’ , so I did business studies. But, that qualification was what got me into Uni, so….

We’ve had quite a few students contacting us who are currently studying your work.
Yeah, I get like 3 emails a week.
How does this make you feel and what is your advice to them?
Well, its kind of cool I guess. A lot of my friends are teachers, because thats what you do if you don’t do too well after art school - you become a teacher. So one of my best friends is teaching in Sheffield and sent his class away to study an artist over the Summer. One of them came back, he opened up his sketchbook and it was me…
…One of my other friends is teaching in Manchester and the same thing happened. Its really weird.
So what do they ask you?
I don’t do talks. It’s not really my thing. I did some Uni talks after my American show, and I was very good at it - I was just telling them places to go and get drunk. I prefer to walk around their studios and have a bit of a conversation. Let them chat.

Questions wise, they just ask me a lot about technique, or inspiration. Ages wise, it goes from 12 or 13 up to first year Uni. I did a Skype talk to a school in California. That was weird.

You told me the last time we spoke that you came up with a title for this show whilst running on the treadmill but then forgot it.
Yeah…and I was on the rower yesterday and it came back to me.

But do you then stop rowing? Or do you keep going?
Oh no, I keep on going. You’ve got to keep on going.

Do you dream in biro?
I should do, shouldn’t I?

What other actives draw inspiration?
All I do is work (well, work out now). Pens and guns…
…I dunno, hang out with friends, go to the gym, play football, travel.

Which artist has the most effect on you?
Still the same - Basquiat. I want to draw him doing the waltz with Queen Nefertiti.

What is it that inspires you about his work?
He’s just irritatingly good.
What Hang-Up artist would you most like to collaborate with?
I was thinking Joe Webb - but I don’t know how it would work. Maybe he could stick stuff together, and I could draw the hands and feet.

With many successes must’ve come your fair share of disasters. What tops the trifle?
I don’t know. I try not to let the world see the disasters too much. I suppose the success list will be shorter than the disaster list.

There’s none in the exhibition right?
We’ll see…


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